There’s a special place for the coquettish, romance book genre on our bookshelf. Sure, the stereotypes sometimes persist and the standards for partners are set to ‘impossibly high’ but almost no one I know can resist the temptations of a good romance novel. I place the blame squarely on our single lives; we love to immerse ourselves in these fictional love sagas and escape to a world that provides comfort and makes room for our fancies. In the past few years, it looks like everyone has taken back to reading, a heartening return. The Instagram community of readers, popularly known as Bookstagram, has crossed more than 89 million hashtags. Romance books are the centre of the Bookstagram universe, powered by some of the most talented young authors. One of them is Ana Huang, an Amazon best-selling author with over 4.5 stars on Goodreads.
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Her stories are represented by strong female characters, intense storylines, the right hints of spiciness, and everyone’s favourite morally grey male characters. She has successfully managed to create her own literary multiverse filled with sequels and spin-offs. I used to binge-read her Twisted Series and where each book was so different and still existed in the same universe. It’s safe to say that she has a strong hold on the Bookstagram community. So before we start reading her last release, King of Pride, the second book in her King of Sin series, we sat down with our Bookstagram favourite author for a quick chat about her journey so far.
ELLE: How did you start your writing journey?
Ana Huang: I started when I was young in order to improve my English because my parents spoke Chinese, and so I had to take it as my second language. My mother would help me speed up the process by making me write stories every day. At first, I thought she liked reading my stories and thus got into the habit of writing every day. My family has always encouraged my love for books; they would take me to the library every weekend to spend time between the lines. I wrote my first novel when I was 16, but I never shared it because it was just a creative outcome and something I considered fun. But as and when I grew older, a lot of online writing communities came up where I shared it. When I was in graduate school, I never thought of publishing my book before, as I knew for a fact that I couldn’t work full time, but I still gave it a chance and put the book up, and surprisingly, it did pretty well. I was not used to having the right ‘author behaviour” because, well, I didn’t have any ideas how to react to the fame, so I just put on my shoes and ran. As the years passed, I did not have the time to read and write. The pandemic opened doors, and the package of reading and writing came back together.
ELLE: The Twisted series is now a Bookstagram phenomenon; how was your response to this newfound fame and love from everywhere?
AH: Well, to be very blunt with you, I did not expect it. When I wrote this novel, it was more intense and spicy, so I just hoped people would enjoy, even the tiniest bit. However, in 2021, the book gained momentum, and I was unaware that even fan accounts were being made. I am really grateful to all those who continued to create their own mini-stories inspired by mine. The greatest compliment an author can receive is when people come up to them and tell them that their stories inspired them to write too—that they know the characters so well that they create a universe around them.
ELLE: How do you flesh out these characters? Are there any rules you keep in mind while creating them?
AH: I am an Asian myself and have read a lot in the past few years. So coming up with the personality traits and attitudes of the main characters has come very naturally to me. It’s like I can hear them walk and talk. The challenge is with the minor characters, who have to be given more focus as they are the Easter eggs for the next book. I also hire a person who reads and creates a series of my books based on the previous character’s setting.
ELLE: King of Pride is a highly anticipated novel; how is the new lead pair of Kai and Isabella different from your previous ones?
AH: This story is for those who have read the Twisted series, but with a different lens. Their love does not start from enemies to lovers but from being wary of each other and then to lovers. The male character is still a billionaire from Oxford University who falls for this outgoing bartender. What I love about their relationship is that they support and complement each other so well and give the other person something they are missing. The spicy scenes and element of suspense add to the desire to meet them.
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ELLE: Our Instagram is filled with fan-casts for the Twisted series. Who is your favourite among them?
AH: I don’t even know which ones are the right ones because I have never thought of any of the characters as humans. I just write them while having their picture in mind and scrolling through some on Pinterest. If I had to think of one fan-cast, I would go for Jackson Wang or Alex Kim as Josh.
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ELLE: The internet loves the male characters in your stories. How do you build up their characters?
AH: When I create them, I basically think of a real person: what is their emotional verge? What’s holding them back from opening to love? Trace back to failed love or trauma, background and personality. And most of them are morally grey as fans call them but what makes them loveable is the vulnerability they have by the end of the books.
ELLE: You have covered a lot of tropes in your book; is there anything else you would want to explore?
AH: I love the grumpy- sunshine; and everything of that sort but I’m not a huge fan of children in books. In future I would love to do a second chance romance or a marriage in crisis.
ELLE: Lastly, any message for your Indian fans?
AH: I would take this space to show my gratitude to you guys, my every survey be it my Instagram followers, book reading data, India is always no.2. It’s a huge blessing that people are enjoying what I love to do so much around the globe.